The Rivoli Ballroom in Lewisham, London, provides the ideal setting for the annual UK International Same-sex Ballroom and Latin Dance Competition. It has traditionally taken place every year since 1998 to celebrate the anniversary of setting up the Pink Jukebox social dance club in 1996 for LGBTQ people and their friends. The competition & ball has taken place in the opulent setting of the Rivoli Ballroom since 1999. It is one of the main events in the global calendar for UK competitive Same-sex Ballroom and Latin dancers, however at least 50% of those that take part are from abroad, from America; Spain; Germany; Holland; Finland; France and many other countries.
Ralf & Jacky who run the Pink Jukebox, create a very welcoming atmosphere, providing a free buffet, hosted housing, fantastic trophies, and a wonderful team of stewards who make sure the event runs totally smoothly and exactly to time. There are some jaw dropping moments for those who haven’t being to this competition before, because they are not expecting such a professional approach from the highest level (A).
The regular spectators have the widest grin as they become aware that there is going to be a hugely popular and well fought battle for the top place, in both the Men’s Latin and the Women’s Ballroom. Unlike other competitions there is no pre-arranged pecking order. Anyone can enter from total beginner to top professional.
The A level is made up mainly of professionals and teachers, whereas the lowest level can be people who have only been learning a few months, can do a basic quickstep and waltz or cha-cha and jive. Everybody dances two selection rounds, where judges place people in the correct category, and then the competition begins. The crowd stamp their feet and cheer loudly for every couple especially the starters, who are doing their first steps in a competition of any sort. It is one of the biggest & most popular competitions in the world.
As far as competitors go, Caroline Privou & Petra Zimmerman, stormed away with the ‘A’ Level ballroom title for the 15th year running. They are World and European Champions. For the first time this year they did not take the first place in all the dances. Two judges placed Mirium & Angela, who came second, first in the Foxtrot and Tango, also Tania & Innes gained first place from two judges in the Viennese Waltz. The men’s Latin was won for the second time by Swiss pair Marcus Mnerinsky and Renato Minnig, hotly persued by Sergio Brilhante & Michael Litke. Late entry Joshua Moore and Shane Seal came 3rd. UK couple Fiona Millican Walker & her partner reached the final in the Women’s Latin, Piia Korpi & Santra Rinne were thrilled to take the title for the first time in London. The German’s Gordon Knittel and Stephan Huch took the ‘A’ Ballroom title, but UK pair Tim Cheng and Peter Meager were also placed in the ‘A’ class category for the first time since they started dancing last year.
The competition has strong potential to be really exciting in February 2018, if the couples keep improving every year at the same rate. Anybody is welcome to compete, with a partner of the same-sex.
The Pink Jukebox Trophy will be held on 17 February in 2018, at the Rivoli Ballroom. Please put it in your diaries! With 15 categories to enter in just under four hours – there is ample opportunity for dancers to compete alongside their friends in all of these single dance competitions, free from the pressure or rigid structure of a regulated competition.
Midway through the competition, spectators had the fantastic opportunity to watch a demonstration dance from latin duo, Jo Taylor & Louise Hunt – who delivered a characteristic and entertaining Paso Doble all the way from sunny Brighton. Shortly followed by a remarkably upbeat, camp and sassy performance from Gay Games Showdance Finalists, Tiago Caria and Andre Reina (Portugal).
Vernon may well be retiring, but he is delighted to be handing the reigns of the Fun Competition over to Pete Meager, who for the past few years has been committed to providing more social and competitive opportunities to equality dancers around the UK.
We look forward to his debut at the 16th UK Fun Competition on Saturday 3rd October 2020. Thank you to everyone who took part this year, we hope to see more of you there next year – you can even book your tickets online in advance! https://www.facebook.com/events/2124901921138598/